Saturday, March 26, 2016

The "Willfully Ignorant Politician"

As I've traveled to other states and countries,there is usually a common denominator among public officials, which is willful ignorance. Of course there's always exceptions to this rule, and I've met great and wonderful officials who truly care about the people they represent. However, there are many who by choice or sincerity are ignorant.

This problem is not isolated to any single level of officials. It goes from highest level to lowest. From we need to pass the 2400 page bill to see what's in it, to the multiple examples at the state and local level, you can see the similarities. It is virtually impossible for any individual to have a deep understanding of the multiple issues that is under discussion at one one time. We should not expect our elected officials to be experts on every issue, but we should expect them to know what they're voting on and understand the ramification of their vote. 

I also see officials who give too much credit to consultants and bureaucrats, and don't take the time to try and understand the issue themselves. In many cases the consultants are more like lobbyist as they have a vested interest in the outcome of these votes. When you have an ignorant elected officials, allowing those who have a vested interest in the outcome, it can be harmful to the citizen's and tax payers. Unfortunately, in instances such as this it sometime appears that the elected officials work for the consultants and bureaucrats, instead of the other way around.

When there are subjects that I do not understand, I first try and ask questions of those paid to know this information. However, in many cases the accuracy of the the information can be questionable; therefore, I do the research myself. I am fortunate to have built relationships with people who has knowledge on most subjects that I deal with as an elected official. However, when it boils down to it, I simply am not going to vote in support of something complex if it has not been fully vetted. However, I believe when many of our elected officials are faced with complex issues that they do not understand, they vote yes to avoid seeming ignorant. 

When politicians vote yes for something they don't understand, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. It is very rare that laws or ordinances are revisited later on to determine if they helped or were even needed. I hope that we all take time to encourage our elected officials at all levels to not vote blind. Encourage them to understand what their voting for or against. When politicians vote yes for things they don't understand,it is the citizens that suffer the consequences. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Open Letter to Jeff Perry, Mayor Pro-Tem Aubrey, TX

Below is a letter I sent to Jeff Perry, Mayor Pro-Tem Aubrey, TX.  This is in response to a misleading Letter to the Editor he submitted.


I read your Pilot Point Post Signal Letter to the Editor on March 11, 2016.  While this does not appear to be your work, it was a nicely written letter.  This was of course in response to my letter to the editor on March 4, 2016, in which I recommended that certain council-members resign if they failed to see and address the issue that was right in front of them.  While it disappointed me that you felt necessary to mention me by name in your letter, the deeper disappointment is that you don’t seem to understand the extent of the problem with the 5.5 million dollar debt.  Unfortunately, for the citizens of Aubrey, you seem to miss the point quite frequently. 

The 5.5 million dollar expenditure on the new water system is not something I would not support without additional information.  Whenever staff starts misleading us, it should be a sign to require a deeper explanation.  You disagreed with me on this and I respected your position.  The thing that makes me angry about this situation, is the fact that we are spending this money for new infrastructure without repairing the current dilapidated sewer system.  Which should be our first priority and responsibility. 

As you know during the council meeting on February 16, 2016, long time Aubrey resident, Mr. Sissiney spoke at depth about how raw sewage backed up in his yard when it rains.  After being told for decades that we could not afford the necessary sewer repairs, he was disappointed that we were spending 5.5 million dollars in new infrastructure, without addressing the well-known and long standing issues with our current sewer system.  It deeply disappointed me that Mr. Sissiney has had raw sewage backing up in his yard for 32 years and this city has done nothing about it.  What further disappointed me was that you actually have been to Mr. Sissiney’s home when the raw sewage was running through his yard, and yet you still voted in favor of spending 5.5 million dollars on new infrastructure without repairing the dilapidated sewer system.  However, your letter to the editor completely avoided the sewer problems, which was the main reason I asked for resignations.

Now one might think that you avoided the sewer issue intentionally and tried to mislead the public into believing that I was upset solely on the 5.5 million dollars of additional debt, which makes your point plausible.  This would have been a typical political move by an experienced politician.  However, after sitting next to you or the last year, I would have to believe that you truly do not understand the real issue.  I also, do not believe that you’re not intellectually capable of strategizing something like that.  Call me a fool, but I really don’t think you get it.  However, if you’d really stated the facts about the issue, it is likely that most people in Aubrey would agree that you should resign.  However, with the intellectual capability previously mentioned, doubt you’ll get that either. 

While several council members callously disregarded Mr. Sissney’s plea, you particularly disappointed me.  Not only have you seen the raw sewage bubbling in his yard with your own eyes, but you were apparently friends with his son.  You were someone he respects and trusts, and you’ve let him down thus far.  Just about every person in Aubrey has had their children’s picture taken with this man, as he plays Santa Clause at all of the local functions, and the city of Aubrey has literally shit on this guy for 32 years.   I have always had a saying that “Once you know, you can’t not know”.  This saying has never been more applicable than it is right now, and you know

This has not been the first time that we’ve not seen eye to eye to on a major issue.  If you recall, you voted to support the artificial inflation of our property tax rate.  We gerrymandered the debt, so that we could charge Aubrey citizens a few more bucks in property taxes this year (which still didn’t leave enough money to fix the sewer).  Unfortunately, you did not see a problem with this, while I felt that this was not ethical or transparent.  However, when I spoke out publicly about this, you got upset, stating that I was suggesting the council was either “shady or ignorant”, and you didn’t appreciate that.  However, in this matter, you had to be one or the other.  Either you didn’t get it, or you didn’t care, and either way it’s wrong for the government to act this way and bad for the people of Aubrey. 

I made you aware that I was circulating a petition against using this manipulation practice in the future, and although you were firmly in support of this practice 9 months ago, you’ve asked me to hold off on the petition until after the election.  Although, you’ve said that you can defend all of your votes, guess that one was the exception.  Maybe you weren’t as proud of that as you thought.   

We have both worked on each other’s campaigns.  I have spent both time and treasure to get you elected in the past, but it’s clear that you are not the person I thought you were.  You do not commit the time it takes to be a good city councilman, nor are you are as ethical or moral as you like to have people believe.  You have good image in public, but I suspect that if people really got to know you, they would be disappointed as well. 

You said in your letter that “everyone knows where you stand”.  Unfortunately with apathy and the lack of involvement of the community that is not a factual statement.  It should read that “everyone knows where you should stand”, because you know as well as I do you, your votes on council do not reflect the public image you portray.  The lack of involvement and level of ignorance that you bring into most votes is embarrassing.  If you really “stood for the people of Aubrey”, you would actually support the people, which currently you’re not.  While that is a nice catchphrase, we both know you have no idea what you stand for.  If you really stood for the people of Aubrey, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, and I would be helping you get re-elected. 

You also pointed out that you do not “vote on principle”.  I think that says a lot, does that mean that you do not have principles?  Or do you even know what principles are?  Mirriam-Webster defines principle as - a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.  So I guess in your own words you do not have a foundation for your beliefs or behavior.  If you had good principles (which your public image portrays), then voting with your principles would reflect that, and again we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

It has often bothered me that you’ve put so much effort into complaining about people who live in the Aubrey Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ), who show up to our meetings to make comments during citizen’s input.  However, it does appear that you don’t mind if the comments are positive, but if there is a complaint attached, you bellyache about having to listen to them.  Perhaps you don’t understand open and transparent government.  These are public meetings and everyone has the right to attend and have their voice heard.  The Constitution of the United States, which you’ve taken the oath to support and defend, guarantees people’s rights to redress government.  The meetings are a mechanism to do this in a general law city.  Many of the things that we’re doing have a direct impact on those that live in the ETJ.  Them exercising their voice is something that good public official would welcome, not complain about.  Your statement that you are “always open to contact, and I am always willing to hear your points of view on the subjects the city council may be handling”, is not accurate.  For the most part, people that I know to have called you, said you were a nice, but had no clue on the stated subject, even if you voted to support it, and you were absolutely no help.  All of the people who support you, support you because they’ve never needed your help with anything related to your position on council.  If they ever had an issue, they’d find a whole different Jeff Perry than the one on Facebook.

When you encouraged me to run for this seat, you said you needed a good vote setting next to you, which I believe you’ve gotten from me.  But what does that matter when you consistently vote with the herd?  You basically vote however the mayor and city staff want you to vote.  You’ve shown no courage to be your own man, but rather a puppet for the regime, a regime that does not reflect the image you portray.  Frankly a bobble-head sitting your seat could’ve done the same job you’ve done over the last year.  I have voted with my principles, and I know why I voted for or against each and every time.  We’ve all made mistakes and I am big enough to admit those mistakes, and try and do better in the future.  You appear to hope nobody really knows how you’ve voted, because if they knew the subjects as well as you should have when you voted, your house of cards would come down. 


Calvin Tillman
Aubrey City Council Place 4

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Aubrey, TX, Water/Wastewater Woes-

For the past several months the Aubrey City Council has been discussing a possible solution to its lack of water capacity.  This discussion has centered on water needed for future growth for the city of Aubrey.  The only proposal that was seriously considered by council was initiating a 5.5 million dollar bond package for new infrastructure, to increase capacity of the Aubrey water system. 

While I argued that there may be other solutions available, it was clear that other solutions were not seriously considered by the mayor, council, or city staff.  My main concern was that we are going to double the city debt, without looking at all options.  Unfortunately, my concerns were validated on February 16, 2016, when the majority of the Aubrey City Council voted to approve the 5.5 million dollar bond package. 

Another thing happened at the February 16, 2016 council meeting.  A longtime resident of Aubrey spoke about some of his issues with our current sewer system.  For 32 years this man has lived Aubrey and paid taxes to this city, and for 32 years during periods of heavy rainfall, this man has had raw sewage running through his yard from the failing Aubrey sewer system.  Yes, I said that correctly, raw sewage.  This is something that we had not discussed to this point. 

For 32 years this man has been told that Aubrey could not afford to repair the sewer infrastructure near his home that was causing this problem, yet now we’re going to spend 5.5 million on new water infrastructure, without addressing the existing sewer problems.  Unfortunately, I have served on this council for less than a year and have not been made aware of issues such as this.  However, other council members and city staff were well aware of this issue, and yet have made no provisions or proposals to fix the many problems that currently exist with our water/wastewater system. 

I called this long time resident and apologized from the bottom of my heart for this blatant failure of government.  However, I am still disappointed in my fellow members of Aubrey City Council for voting to support a 5.5 million dollar expenditure for new infrastructure when we can’t afford to take care of what we have.  I’m embarrassed to serve on a city council that cares so little about the people who have built this community.  If the members of the Aubrey city council do not understand why we should not spend a nickel for new infrastructure until the existing system meets minimum standards, they are unfit for public service and should resign their positions immediately. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Letter to the Editor

The Letter to The Editor below was published several months ago in the Pilot Point Post Signal, in Pilot Point, TX, which is my local newspaper, and a good one I might add - I think it is relevant to run again here.  

Get Involved-

You hear a lot today about government officials who do what they want without regard to the people that they’re supposed to represent.  We have officials who act as though they’re above the law and won’t be held accountable for their actions.  They have lost touch with the people and change laws to benefit themselves personally.  There are a growing number of paid bureaucrats layered between you and your officials to ensure that you can’t access them.  They say one thing in public and do another when no one is looking.  You may think I am referring to the politics of Washington, D.C., but you don’t have to look any further than your local city hall to find these sort of actions.      

In Aubrey the local government is cooking the books to squeeze a few more tax dollars out of their citizens.  While the Aubrey citizens are getting fleeced by their elected officials, there was one citizen present at the first public hearing on the tax rate.  During the last local election in Aubrey, there were two elected positions that were uncontested and only around 14% of the registered voters turned out.  This is what happens when good people sit idly by.

Next door to Aubrey, we find that Krugerville has not had the legally required annual financial audits in many years, and there’s apparently enough funds missing from the kitty to prompt an investigation from the Texas Rangers.  Fortunately for the people of Krugerville, there’s some new blood on their city council.  The new members on city council will no doubt change the community culture for the good. 

A few miles up the road in Pilot Point, there is the controversy over the forced annexation and whether it was legal.  Many who were annexed apparently are upset over this matter and disappointed to learn that there are some questions to the legitimacy of the annexation.  Unfortunately for them, to fight the annexation would be very expensive and to add insult to injury the city would be using tax dollars to fight their own residents.  I wonder how many of those annexed, voted in the last local election.  Why haven’t they ran for city council themselves?   

I hope that people understand that the local government has a significant influence over their lives.  This is also the level that can make the most difference.  Winning a local election is affordable and practical.  We likely will have little influence on what happens in Washington, D.C., but we can change what is happening in our own backyard.  If you don’t want to run for local office, at least go to meetings and meet your mayor and council.  It will be intuitively obvious which officials care and which ones have their own agendas in mind; support the ones who truly care.  If you want to see a change in the way things are being done, you have to be that change.  Get involved one way or the other, because you can see what happens when you don’t.  You might have to miss an occasional episode of Dancing With the Stars, but you can make a difference.